TDs demand transport policing following homophobic attack on Dublin Bus

“If we are going to encourage more people to use our public transport links, we must ensure that everyone feels safe when doing so.”

Top floor of a Dublin Bus.
Image: Twitter: @robertomo

CW: Graphic content and images depicting homophobia and physical violence.

TDs have called upon the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, to establish a transport policing system with An Garda Síochána after a 26-year-old man was reportedly the victim of a homophobic attack on a Dublin Bus last weekend. Mark Sheehan was travelling home on the 15 route after a night out in The George when he was antagonised and assaulted by a gang of young men, leading to hospitalisation and a possible broken nose.

Justice spokesperson for Sinn Féin Martin Kenny TD urged the Minister to act on this issue “without any further delay” in light of the recent incident.

“The fact that this attack happened on a Dublin Bus once again underlines the need to establish a transport policing system.

“Last November, I raised the issues facing staff and commuters using public transport with the Minister for Justice. At the time, the Minister maintained that there was no need for a dedicated transport policing unit to serve public transport,” he continued, also explaining that when the topic was revisited in February, he received the same response from the department and the National Transport Authority.

“Since then, we have seen a further deterioration in the conditions faced on some services by staff and passengers. This includes open drug use and drug dealing, harassment and assault of passengers and staff, excessive alcohol use, and intimidation.”

The Sligo-Leitrim TD said: “[Sunday’s] homophobic attack is the latest example of this, and it is simply not acceptable any longer for the government to sit on their hands while this continues to fester.

“If we are going to encourage more people to use our public transport links, we must ensure that everyone feels safe when doing so.”

Kenny added: “Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, in their homes, and going about their daily business. I wish to extend my solidarity with the victim of this cowardly act of violence. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope that there is sufficient CCTV footage to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Also speaking out on the issue was Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin South West, John Lahart, who expressed similar sentiments, saying that he and his party colleagues “will continue to campaign for the introduction of a dedicated Garda transport unit to help protect people using public transport”.

“There needs to be a consistent approach to this. We must have a consistent and effective mechanism for security on public transport. People must feel safe,” he said.

“I strongly condemn the actions of the small minority who subject others to abuse or attack resulting from their own prejudice. In recent months we have seen vicious crimes take place. This cannot and will not be tolerated.

“An inclusive Ireland is one where crimes motivated by prejudice, hate or bigotry are not tolerated and work is ongoing as a priority to legislate against hate crime and hate speech, to ensure that Ireland is fair, safe and inclusive for all,” Deputy Lahart added.

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